Monday, January 30, 2012

Postfeminist Media Culture

In Gill's chapter titled "Postfeminist Media Culture," Gill explains the emergence of postfeminism as a period following second-wave feminism. He discusses how earlier feminist concerns shifted, putting a larger concern on the differences between gender. One of the topics postfeminism focuses on is the obsession of women’s bodily images. As Gill states on page 255, “surveillance of women’s bodies (but not men’s) constitutes perhaps the largest type of media content across all genres and media forms.” One can clearly see this in today’s women’s magazines. Although society is attempting to change the image of the “stick-thin, tall, flawless” woman and incorporating more normal-sized/plus-sized models into the media, it will take more than a few new photos to create a new idea of how women’s appearance should be. Another idea postfeminist culture examines is the sexualization of culture. Men are still admired for their sexual accomplishments while women are demoralized and criticized for it. Last year in my Issues in Feminism class, I had to do a group project comparing and contrasting women’s and men’s magazines. I remember looking at Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health. Cosmopolitan described women as sexual pleasures; giving females tips on how to look better and be better in bed for their man while Men’s Health focused on improving men’s diets and appearances for themselves. The fact that women were being told how to improve for their man angered me and only further emphasized the powerful role men have in society.  “What is striking is the degree fit between autonomous postfeminist subject and the psychological subject demanded by neoliberalism” (260). This quote shows how although women have begun to shift away from their previously submissive roles toward men and move toward accomplishing individualism and empowerment, women’s attempts at fitting in with societal pressures are still present. Since these representations are socially constructed and highly emphasized by the media, these beauty ideals become their own. Women must look past the edited versions of inexistent beauty they see in magazines and the media and gain the strength to create their own identity of beautiful. 

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